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[jeyl-burd] /ˈdʒeɪlˌbɜrd/
a person who is or has been confined in jail; convict or ex-convict.
Origin of jailbird
First recorded in 1595-1605; jail + bird Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for jailbird
Historical Examples
  • "If he's a jailbird I'll hate to see him in these parts," went on the farmer soberly.

    The Rover Boys in the Air

    Edward Stratemeyer
  • I guess ye'll not be findin' anybody that will be wantin' a jailbird.

    Just Patty Jean Webster
  • Then, after the jailbird had flown, he said that he would not send word at all.

    Betty Lee, Senior

    Harriet Pyne Grove
  • The fellers say that hes been a jailbird, an they dont want him in the house.

  • Poor devil, hes got all the marks of the jailbird about him.

  • Neither had he become a jailbird in seeking to serve his own ends.

    Rich Man, Poor Man

    Maximilian Foster
  • The boy cocked one eye at him—he knew that Jurgis was a "jailbird" by his shaven head.

    The Jungle Upton Sinclair
  • He saw Paul in a jailbird's uniform, but while he agonized he didn't believe the tale.

    Babbitt Sinclair Lewis
  • It was a situation by no means new to the four walls of the jailbird nor to the men concerned.

    Judith of Blue Lake Ranch

    Jackson Gregory
  • In front of the jailbird the only light came from within and made scant war on the lurking darkness without.

    Judith of Blue Lake Ranch

    Jackson Gregory
British Dictionary definitions for jailbird


a person who is or has been confined to jail, esp repeatedly; convict
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for jailbird

1610s, based on an image of a caged bird; from jail (n.) + bird (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for jailbird



A convict or ex-convict (1618+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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